Political apathy is an area of concern and focus for many who believe that more citizen participation is important and beneficial to the common good. Low voter turnouts and civic engagement tend to worry those who believe that all Americans should be involved.
But simply casting a vote does not an unapathetic person make. Indeed, far worse than apathy in one’s civic duty is intellectual apathy, whereby those giving their support to a candidate or policy do not fully understand the implications and consequences of implementing the policy or electing the politician. Individuals who stay home and don’t participate in civic affairs are not affirmatively voting for bad things, whereas those who get involved, but who indirectly uphold the violation of individual liberty, cause more harm than good.
“Get out the vote” efforts should therefore be subordinated to educational efforts that persuade all persons to understand and adhere to the fundamental principles of individual liberty, private property, and free enterprise. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
Many institutions exist which have as their mission the promulgation of these principles, but most of them focus on national issues. The Ludwig von Mises Institute, Foundation for Economic Education, CATO, Reason, Future of Freedom Foundation, the Institute for Humane Studies, and others all do great work and are worthy of our support.
But what of focusing within one’s own state? Many state-based think tanks exist around the country which focus on their own governments and seek to clean house at a more local level. Unfortunately for Utah, there has been no organization to advocate for liberty and promote moral public policy at a state and municipal level.
I’m extremely excited to announce the formation of Libertas Institute, a public policy organization dedicated to advancing the cause of liberty in Utah. No longer will the liberty movement in our state be relegated to infrequent activism projects and loosely-organized educational initiatives. It’s time to step it up a notch.
To show we’re serious, we’re kicking things off with an essay contest where you can win a $1,500 grand prize, or the “people’s choice” prize of $500. That’s right: share with us your thoughts on liberty in Utah, and you could come away with a hefty cash prize.
Many people have asked me in the past few years if I would consider running for public office. I’ve usually shrugged off such suggestions, replying in the past few months that “I’ve got something better in mind.” Libertas Institute is it. The time has never been better to accelerate the promotion and adoption of liberty. Utah needs this message.